Have you ever had Bishop’s Bread? If not, many recipes you’ll see online resemble the notorious fruit cake that Americans joke about as a “re-gifting” item. My Czech mother-in-law’s recipe does contain some lemon zest, but beyond that, it’s more of a chocolate chip and nut lover’s dream. This cake wonderfully combines bittersweet chocolate with hazelnuts (or walnuts or pecans), with the lemon zest adding just the right bit of pleasant zest for ultimate deliciousness. This sweet bread contains lots of beaten egg whites. Occasionally, I add some chopped candied orange peel to the batter, if I have some left over from making Marokánky cookies. If I do that, I reduce the chocolate and nut quantities slightly. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #7
A nutty meringue cookie with a hint of chocolate flavor. This cookie can last for weeks. Because of that, during WWII, my Czech mother-in-law sent a large batch of these cookies to Jewish friends that sadly were taken to a concentration camp. These were a favorite of my husband’s father. My mother-in-law spread the batter in a pan, then cut them into squares. I prefer to bake them in individual traditional small rounds. I think they’re prettier that way. As with many others, these taste even better as they age. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #6
Rum, chocolate, walnut balls with the delight of rum-soaked dried cherries in their centers, pack a delicious flavor punch. No wheat flour needed. They even improve with age, but I tend to eat up the first batch quickly. They are traditionally rolled in unsweetened cocoa, which gives them a nice flavor bite, but you can get even more creative, as I did for the photo above (cocoa, finely grated coconut, finely chopped/ground nuts, and multi-color nonpareils). Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #5
Pracny (or Medvědí Tlapky) are very traditional Czech nut and spice cookies baked in special cookie molds, some looking like bear paws. The following recipe has a light amount of spices. Other recipes include more. Feel free to increase the ground cinnamon and clove amounts a bit, according to your taste. Too much clove can get overwhelming, though. This is an eggless recipe. Traditional molds for pracny can be found online. I purchased mine at https://www.slovczechvar.com/?cat=26&scat=88, which is an online store in the US.
I have only ever used smooth flour for this recipe. Unbleached pastry flour (see below) should be an equivalent. I’m not sure how they would turn out using all-purpose flour. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #4
A crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookie with the delights of fruit and nuts, and bittersweet chocolate on the bottom. The batter is prepared in a saucepan, cooled then baked, and later dipped in chocolate. The original recipe calls for candied orange peel with nuts, but other dried fruit (or a combination) could be used. The combination of candied orange peel and dried cranberries (i.e. Craisins), with the nuts, is especially nice for the holidays. I highly suggest using candied orange peel. It gives the cookie its signature lovely flavor. I have found it in gourmet shops, but usually order it online. US ingredient equivalents/substitutions are provided, where necessary. I suggest weighing the fruit and nuts. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #3
There are no nuts in these buttery Linzer Tart cookies (Linecké koláčky)! They have a lovely hint of lemon and a burst of delicious jelly/preserves goodness. I love these so much with raspberry or red currant preserves, although other fruit flavors would work, too. I buy the highest quality preserves available. These are less crunchy and more melt-in-your mouth than other Linzer cookies. They hold up well. I sometimes make a double batch because these are my personal favorite Christmas cookies. Continue reading
Czech Christmas Cookie #2
My Czech mother-in-law’s vanilla crescent cookies (vanilkové rohlíčky) are the most melt-in-your-mouth version I’ve ever tried. This popular buttery vanilla and nut cookie is enjoyed throughout much of Central Europe. These taste great the first day, and even better as they age. I always make plenty! They are my husband’s favorite cookie. My mother-in-law used roasted hazelnuts, which is also my usual choice, but other types of nuts could also be used. The pictured cookies are smaller than they may appear. I consider them a two-bite cookie, while my husband eats them in one.
Czech Christmas Cookie #1
These sandwich cookies are a buttery, chocolaty, nutty delight with a delicious jelly/preserves and rum-hazelnut filling. They are almost like a mini fancy torte. The original recipe was created in 1849 in the spa town of Bad Ischl, in Austria, as a treat for the Emperor Franz Joseph I of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If using Czech/Slovak flour, go by all ingredient amounts in grams and the Celsius oven temperature. Otherwise, use the American measurements. Continue reading
About nine years ago, I reached my heaviest weight ever. It happened so quickly! I blamed a combination of the depression I had experienced that year, and the weight unfriendly medications I was taking. In addition, being overweight was not exactly rare in my family.
My depression, at that time, was so stubborn that I was urged to get a series of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments. The treatments actually did alleviate my depression, but then the doctors put me back on the same weight unfriendly and ineffective mix I was on before the ECT. The depression came back. I was also told that I was pre-diabetic, had high cholesterol, and very high triglycerides. Really, enough was enough! I luckily had a major medication overhaul and my general practitioner (GP) was giving me lectures about my diet and lack of exercise. Continue reading
Sometimes, now, I wonder if your love for me was a mirage or some kind of wishful thinking on my part. Or were the last several years truly a very slow cancerous death, or progressing dementia, and with it, the death of love and true concern for those who truly love you? Continue reading